Staying at a Hostel vs. Hotel

Hi travel fans! I have a lot of experience to share. As a veteran traveler, I can steer you in the right direction to avoid the crowded tourist traps. Tourists just opt for the obvious and they don’t need more than a handy guidebook. This is the way to meet other tourists and not the locals. No one wants that anymore. You want to practically become a native to really get to know the true culture of a place. A traveler has higher goals and expectations. Like me, such an individual wants to embrace the wonderful differences on this great planet. To me, there are better ways to accomplish this, so stay tuned to my blog.

When venturing out for a vacation or a short stay to explore new things, accommodations are a first priority once you arrive. Unless you are on a cruise, you have a choice of options in all price ranges. Most young people I know prefer hostels. They are cheap, usually clean and adequate, and can be found in almost any location from Tibet to Turkey. It is pretty basic, but you are in the center of the action and can meet others with whom you can do day trips or share meals. If you travel alone, you might count on these encounters. Since people are from all over the world, you learn a lot as you exchange stories. Many hostel dwellers can recommend travel tips and insider information that other “tourists” do not know about. It can be invaluable in making your trip special and unique. I have made long-time friends with whom I arrange to meet on future trips abroad.

On the other hand, the amenities are few and far between. For example, I love to swim and often miss my amazing above ground pool that I have at home. It is a modest above ground affair, but I love the refreshing exercise. Thus, if I can find a hostel or hotel with any kind of facility for swimming, I am there. You don’t have to spend a bundle unless you are a lover of luxury. I like to go to places off the beaten track, and big resorts are not often common. However, during the summer, I crave a pool to unwind at the end of the day. Thus, a hotel is usually the best bet. Plus, you can eat breakfast before you take off, not to mention a late night dinner if you return late. Hostels are not as accommodating. One caveat here: I recommend eating in local restaurants at all times to sample the native cuisine and get a much better travel experience. It is, after all, all about immersing yourself in the culture of a new place, which includes the food and drink.

Thus, the choice of a hotel or hostel is key when planning your trip; although I prefer to decide when I get there. I like a spontaneous experience, which means I arrive and just see what happens. I love the surprises and exciting outcomes.

Great Experience on a Lazy River

There is a song by Bobby Darin called “Up a Lazy River” with great lyrics.

Up a lazy river by the old mill run
Lazy river in the noon day sun
Linger awhile in the shade of a tree
Throw away your troubles, dream with me

Up a lazy river where the robin’s song
Wakes the morning, we roll along
Make me blue skies above
Everyone’s in love
Up a lazy river, how happy we’ll be
Up a lazy river with me

This is only half of the song but it speaks clearly of a lovely day in the sun by the river. If you live near one you can identify. I happen to reside within a few miles and so I ask people how they enjoy their favorite spot for a great experience. I enjoy community activities and always want to know what others recommend. This would be true even if I were traveling as much as it is for at home. People bask in the warm rays of the sun, have picnics, go boating or swimming, and perhaps some like to fish. A good many have reported to me that tubing is tops on their list to do especially with their kids. I was intrigued and wanted to try river floating as it is called. I have a little free time so why not buy a tube just for river floating. You can get them online or in any water recreation store. They come shaped like a tube, sure, but there are others that are more unique. They have writing or graphics on them and some are quite colorful so you won’t be missed as you glide down the river. You can be towed by a boat in a lake or ride the rapids as well. Get one that is versatile and durable.

I found the activity to be great fun and most enjoyable. I certainly want to go back again, another time with friends and a big picnic basket. We will rest out of the water with some soda and beer. Any sunny summer day is a good time to indulge. Let other people bring their own tubes and we are all set. It is so lucky to have the river nearby and not to have to drive for hours to get to one. I love water recreation of all types and this one is new enough to me to be a top favorite. My friends and I create mock races and try to reach a stated goal first to win. Afterwards we like to relax and just drift for hours. No need to get intense. Thus it is very different from body surfing in the ocean or water skiing. It is indeed a lazy enterprise. The tube I have is the best—it has a backrest and is rather comfortable. There is a drink holder, a grab robe, and heavy duty handles. This is divine river lounging. I suggest you try it.

ER Visit

After a trip to the ER when overseas on a personal junket of sorts, I went back with a gift for the doctor that went out above and beyond in terms of my care. I had developed a strange malady that I was sure no one could diagnose. The symptoms were fever and ague, high temperature, skin lesions and regional discoloration. It had to be evaluated by someone who had encountered it before. I went to the ER in an African country I was visiting given no other choice seeing that facilities were few and far between. These types of medical make shift programs specialized in local diseases and I was sure that I had one. Not just any journeyman doctor would know what ailed me. The diseases you find in out of the way foreign haunts are not even in medical books.

I was seen by a young doctor who recognized my condition right away as a tropical disease that was somewhat contagious and that I had no doubt picked up in my travels. I had to have some skin removed in surgery in a carefully controlled pristine environment that would not allow for infection to bloom. I was given special medication the name of which I scarcely remember. I managed to survive the ordeal and went back to thank the doctor some months later when I was “in the neighborhood.” I was passing through so to speak and only too happy to bestow a gift to give him his due. In effect I now made another, less tortuous ER visit. I was reluctant at first not having good memories, but I owed the doctor a bit of praise as I was cured and feeling my best at long last.

I had brought with me the most elaborate Swiss Army knife with all the hundreds of gadgets you can imagine. I thought it would be of use someday in his environs, if not the knife, then the mini scissors, can opener, nail file, or the screwdriver. I love these devices; they are almost like toys—only more well-wrought and finely crafted. We sat down for dinner and reminisced about times past and what was going on at the ER clinic these days. I heard about all sorts of odd cases that made mine look mundane. I wondered how long such a talented doctor could survive in the wilds of Africa with little medical professional help and sparse facilities. He loved his work and intended to see the year through, if not two more. Another team of specialists would arrive at that time and he would have time to take a much-needed sabbatical. I hoped he would go camping somewhere beautiful and take the Swiss Army knife along to help him adapt to less than comfortable conditions. In effect, I wanted my doctor’s gift to be the right one, something useful and technical, but not directly medical. I wanted to give him something he did not have. Knives I am sure he had plenty. Anyone who has seen a Swiss Army deluxe version knows there is no equal match.

Breathing Easier as a Traveler

Traveling is a great joy to most people who love to see new places and new faces around the world—and the more exotic the better. It is the ultimate antidote to boredom and ennui at home. Every so often, we must break our routines and get on a plain, bus, or train. Comparing cultures is a special social science for these nomads who like to spread the word to newbies. Those of us to aspire to the condition of world roamer lap up every word, every photo, and every travel tip. We can’t get enough. We can spot a tourist from a traveler a mile away. The latter seems to learn from experience how to make their jaunt more comfortable and pleasant. Take the problem of allergies that seems to arise in the most surprising places. You get a whiff of new pollen or airborne spores and you are set off on a sneezing and wheezing jag that can last the duration of your trip—ruining it completely. Who knows what else is in the foreign air you breathe when you are away from home.

You can do something about it for a modest investment. A small, portable, inexpensive air purifier should be in your suitcase or backpack, ready to pull out at the least sign of air pollution such as smoke, mold, pet dander, chemicals, germs, or odors. Just ask at your travel store for the best model with conversion plugs and you are all set for most locations. It pays to think ahead and avoid the loss of sleep that comes from poor air quality, and believe me, the problem is rampant. As a friendly expat, I am here to spread the news that you will save yourself infinite grief in the long run. An air purifier doesn’t take up much space and they are easy to operate at the flick of a switch. There is nothing as wonderful as breathing easier once those nasty allergies have set in. An air purifier works in any average size hotel room and sure beats an oxygen tank and face mask. It is the modern traveler’s way to combat allergens. Make it a must on your next voyage abroad.

Don’t be too proud to use it. You don’t have to be a dutiful tourist and go native an accept conditions such as they are.Diehards say it the environment, such as it is, is part of what makes visiting a certain locale different. But what is unique and characteristic of a place surely doesn’t include odors, bacteria, mold, and dust. You want a clean room top to bottom and that includes the air. Odor plays a huge role in making a hotel room feel and smell rank. Don’t underestimate the need to banish odors with your special travel appliance. Accommodating to negative conditions is the mark of an experienced traveler and it can make the difference between a wonderful experience and a mediocre one. If you can’t sleep because you can’t breathe, you are likely to be too tired to enjoy the scenery and the local color in any case.

Odd Jobs While Travelling

Travelling can be expensive, and getting all the places you want to go can seem like a financially daunting task. There are smart ways to cut back on costs—travelling light, staying in hostels, haggling, buying a cheap used vehicle that you can sell before you leave somewhere, and lots of other little tricks. You probably know a few already 😉

One thing you might not have considered that can keep costs down while travelling is bartering. Sometimes you can trade items you have collected in previous travels for an item you require in your current locale. People are always in the market for foreign goods; I have found that electronics and designer clothing tend to be popular. But if you don’t have anything worth their while on you, you may be overlooking something very obvious: yourself. If your translation skills might come in handy somewhere—say, at a restaurant where customers appear to be arguing over the bill—you can offer to help resolve the problem for a discount on your meal.   I’ve had people come up to me and ask directions to a tourist friendly location. Instead of giving them directions and sending them on their way, I’ve often offered to be a tour guide/translator and tagged along (usually for the price of admission or a meal). If you are comfortable enough with your surroundings, the people who have approached you, and the language, it is definitely worth a shot.

Something else that works for me is offering labor in exchange for something. I stayed at a hostel last year that looked quite run down on the outside but was surprisingly clean inside. The owner explained to me that her husband used to do all the maintenance while she handled the cleaning and that since he passed away, she had barely been able to manage. I looked through his tools and discovered a paint sprayer and an air compressor. I offered to power wash the outside and repaint if she’d let me stay there for a month and purchased the paint herself. She readily agreed, and I got to work. It was a two story building, but not very large, so it only took me a couple of days to get the walls ready to paint.

The paint sprayer was one of the best paint sprayers I’d ever used; it had a reverse nozzle to prevent clogging, it had very little overspray, and I got the whole building done in just a day. It was surprisingly easy to clean, too. I got everything put back in pretty much the same condition I found it all in. I think the owner was a bit surprised at the short amount of time it took me to do everything—about a work week—and then had to give me free room and board for another three and a half weeks, but her business doubled over that time, so…I don’t think she felt she could rightly complain. The best part was that I got to add another stop on my travels on that trip with the money I saved.

Definitely keep an eye out in your travels for ways that you can use your unique experiences and knowledge to make your travels cheaper and easier. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the opportunities that present themselves!

Air on the Go

Whether you are travelling by car or bike, or if you use an inflatable air mattress, chances are you’ve needed air at some point in your journey. When you have to pack up and carry everything you own with you all the time, you become selective with what you are willing to lug around all the time. One thing that you might want to consider having is a portable air compressor for emergencies.

If you are riding a bicycle on a wooded trail, chances are, you would take a small bicycle pump and patch kit with you because you wouldn’t want to get stranded. But are you as well prepared if you’re travelling by car, especially if you in an unfamiliar rental, or if you are in a foreign country on roads not well travelled? What happens if you get a flat?

They make small air compressors that have special adapters to run off a car’s power. This is the type of item you can put in the trunk if you travel by car often and not think about until you have to use it. The great thing about an air compressor like that is you can use it for other things, too. If you like sleeping on air mattresses, you can use it to inflate them. No more pumping by hand or worrying about if the built-in pump’s batteries have enough juice to get you through another night. I tend to be overly prepared, so when I know I’ll be travelling by car, I take one with me. The one I bought is on the large side, but it will also jumpstart a car and can charge USB devices in a pinch. It also has a backlight pressure gauge, which I didn’t think would be a good feature until I needed it once in the dark. I got a flat tire in a rental car with a completely empty space where the spare should have been! It was late at night and I was a long way from anywhere, so my compressor saved me a lot of hassle. Again, I love mine because I like to be prepared, but be honest with yourself: you might not need a device that does quite so much!

If you are interested in adding one of these to your pack for travelling, I highly recommend reading air compressor reviews before purchasing. Be sure that it has the ability to inflate what you need (a needle for tires or the like, an adaptor for small air mattress valves) right out of the box without having to buy anything extra. If you need it to run on a car battery, make sure it comes with the adapter or that it is available for purchase. Some can even run off batteries if you are concerned about being away from power sources for any length of time. Also, see how much it weighs and how big it is. It isn’t going to help you if it is too heavy for you to carry wherever you go.

With a little investigating, you can find something that will meet your air needs and your lifestyle. Good luck, and safe travels!

Packing Pro Tip: Electric Blanket

When you travel, you have your adapter set to handle any little appliances you take along like an electric toothbrush, a hair dryer, an electric shaver, and the like. When you travel a lot as I do, little conveniences start to mean a lot and you get tired of roughing it and making do. You get small size everything and put it all in one zippered bag next to the voltage converter. There are universal plugs in the standard traveler’s kit that suit most foreign lands, unless maybe you go to the North Pole. I don’t like to forget this essential grouping because I have something else that I tote along with my baggage: a good electric blanket. Believe it or not I call it an essential item.

Let me tell you that this winter cover has been a godsend. I am here to give you a packing pro tip. Take one along unless you want to freeze to death in the winter. Many budget hotels do not provide adequate heating by many people’s standards, and they turn it off at night! There aren’t a lot of people there anyway. They come in a twin size that fits in most overnight bags or small suitcases. You can put it at the bottom as a kind of liner for your clothes and it hardly adds any weight. You will never regret it. I remember one horribly cold night in Madrid in January….

A regular blanket just doesn’t cut it if the temperature dips considerably. Don’t count on even the best hotel to provide a thick one. Most people don’t travel off season for good reason. They don’t want to encounter thin bedding at even a decent hotel. What is also nice about having one near at hand in your luggage is that if, by chance, you are privy to another one in the room, you won’t be able to read the directions and use it. Take my word for it. You should also bring your own pillow for neck pain if you have troubles with sleeping on rough beds. You never want to ruin the next day from a bad night’s sleep.

I could give you other packing tips like covering shoes to prevent dirty soles from soiling underwear and making sure your umbrella is shut tight. I could remind you to place shoes in the corners of a suitcase and to place soft folded clothes at the bottom, odds shapes on top. I might also mention to take plastic bags to store used things that need washing and to protect toiletries from leakage. But I will leave it this time to the electric blanket as the main topic at hand.

I know you think it is ridiculous to want to be toasty warm while you are on the go. You can’t use it on a plane or train, even at night. They don’t come with batteries as far as I know. But there are times when an electric blanket will save your life. Did I say I was in Madrid in January with ice on the windows, and in the room! The more experienced travelers know of what I speak. Novices will think big, bulky suitcase fillers and balk at the thought, but once you travel in the winter, you will never want to go without.

Cheap Cleans

In the US, housecleaning is big business. Second generation immigrants hire new ones to do the dirty work for a song. The color of help in America has changed over the decades. In the early 20th century, after the Civil War of course, eastern Europeans downed the caps and aprons first followed by African Americans and then Latinos. Now you have Asians from Southeast Asia with countries like Vietnam. It is all about the melting pot in the US, but it is not the same in foreign countries. Spanish and Portuguese housecleaners still dominate in northern Europe, while poor Slavs fill the bill in Russia. Little has changed in the last fifty years.

When you travel to second and third world countries, for example, you immediately see places that use their own native people, and those who rely on immigrants. It is a matter of numbers, of supply and demand. Whatever the case, we are talking about cheap cleans. Wages are dismal, worse than the US which at least has a minimum wage (not that it is always employed, mind you). Payment is by the job or by the hour and it is very low. Children can be exploited by parents who need supplemental income in the family. Kids as young as nine or ten can wash dishes, sweep floors, and clean toilets. It is appalling, but true. Not much can and will be done. When labour is so cheap, there’s no point spending hundreds of dollars to buy one of the best robot vacuum cleaners when you can pay someone a few dollars an hour using a cheap, basic vacuum cleaner.

Cleaning is a universal requirement. It is not relegated to private homes as in the US and Canada. It is not just found in hotels and office buildings. It is everywhere. Either you clean your own environment or you hire another person to do it. It’s that simple. It developing countries, it no doubt falls to the family in equal amounts, children included. Even the family dog may have chores! In resorts, tourists will see members of the local population in the fancier hotels, and they are lucky indeed; but in rural areas, the segment of society drops down. It is akin to slave labor; and even though there is payment, it is subsistent to be sure.

Cheap cleans are taken for granted but they can be unfair. They keep people in a certain social class from which they can’t get out. On the other hand, these people may not have access to other jobs. They may not read and write; they may not have proper clothes and transportation; they may not have any of the skills required to move up.

So don’t be judgmental if you can. You don’t have to admire how cleaning is handled in other countries, and you no doubt are grateful for it as a tourist. Exploitation is a tough concept to deal with. It is an economic fact of life. It is akin to sweat shops in the clothing industry which flourishes at others’ expense. Tip well in the hotel, my friend. It may be the only significant money your housekeeper will see that day.

Why Live and Work Away from Home

Why Live and Work Away from Home

If you have a sense of adventure, and maybe need more income, choosing to work abroad is ideal. When you are ready to return home, your pockets could be lined with cold, hard cash, more than you could make at an existing job over many years. The opportunities in our global economy are very enticing, luring thousands of Americans to the hinterlands of the world.

Expertise in software and app development and team management is a sure ticket to an overseas locale. Other good entrees include production engineer, trade specialist, Human Resources and recruitment, English teacher, compliance analyst, quality assurance, intelligence research, customer service, marketing, and many more. It is a digital, interactive world requiring a specialized background and experience. If you have what it takes, the world is your oyster.

Even if you have a family, accommodating children is not difficult. English-speaking schools abound and the kids love the change of pace. Everyone goes home with great stories to tell. The only deterrent is your own mental limitations. If you have always longed to live in China or Thailand, a few clicks of the mouse will lead you to your promise land. You can even go on Monster or Most employees are transferred to another division of their company, but you can go on your own and secure a lucrative position. Sometimes housing expenses are included in a package deal. What’s more, $1000 a month pay could equal $10,000 back home.

If you know the language a bit before you go, life can be much easier. Crash courses may be provided in anticipation of relocation. The experience of living in another culture goes way beyond the craze for the Peace Corps some fifty years ago when people had to rough it in very out of the way places. Now, the world is more interrelated than ever before, making adaptation less than intimidating. Enclaves of Americans, for example, exist in most urban centers, if you need help in orientation. You are never alone no matter where your career may take you.

If getting your perfect job at home is a challenge, what with all the competition of new grads every year, working abroad is the answer. Once you have the requisite experience, you can return and find employment more easily. You can rack up points in your field if you have the mental wherewithal to relocate. Talented, motivated people are always in demand, making working away from home not only plausible, but likely. A good percentage of time, the large conglomerates like Coca Cola, Hewlett-Packard and Time Warner are the companies that are hiring, and they look mighty good on ones resume. Interestingly, half of the revenues of some companies in the S&P 500 have come from outside of the U.S.

As new consumer markets open up around the world, jobs will follow, and locals alone cannot meet the demand. They often don’t have the same track record or expertise in operations and management. They lack developed communication skills. There is a void to be filled that promises exciting opportunities for foreigners. There are emerging markets in greater and southeast Asia, central Europe, Latin America, and Africa. Where there is money to be spent, there is income to be made.

Travel Documents 101

travelling abroad

Traveling abroad is always an exciting prospect, but it can be challenging to remember all the requirements before you take off. While there are sometimes specific types of documents you will need to enter a foreign country, most of the time they include passports and visas. Canada, Australia, and England do not require the latter, but other destinations may well demand an updated one. Be sure to double check well before you start packing.

If you are undertaking international travel for the first time, you may not yet have been issued a passport. It, in effect, identifies you and your citizenship (place of residency). We all shun those unattractive photos, but they are necessary, and remember, it will be there from five to ten years!It depends on the age you were at the time of issuance. If 16 or older, the time frame is ten years. Otherwise it is five. If in doubt at the time you think is right for renewal, just look at the passport to be sure. You can opt for a family version, by the way, if you are all off on the jaunt together.

The good part is that you can collect stamps as mementos of your worldwide roaming. It is nice for boasting when you are sitting bored on a plane and want to engage your seat partner and maybe impress them. When you renew in person or by mail, you get to keep the old one as a souvenir.

One of our greatest fears is to lose a passport and get stuck in a country awaiting a replacement. Not to worry. Embassies and consulates know just what to do, so write down their locations as soon as you arrive. If the passport becomes damaged or mutilated in must be replaced, and cannot be done by mail. Also remember that you have to report a name change and you will need to show proper documentation.

Visas are necessary for extended visits and require ID as do passports for issuance. You can use a birth certificate or driver’s license. Even though there are countries that do not demand them, why not get one just in case. You may decide on a last minute change of itinerary. A tourist visa supplements and does not replace your passport, but like one, it can be replaced or renewed at your embassy abroad. It is always important to be mindful of penalties for lapsed documents.

Last but not least are work permits that allow you to obtain employment in a foreign land. Yes, it seems that you must be trackable whatever you do! These are authorizations from the host country and they are not automatic, so you can’t rush the process. In the UK, for example, there are applications for various industries. In some countries, the job categories are limited. In South Africa there are quotas and in Singapore there are educational and financial requirements.

These are the basic documents. Should you wish to adopt a new citizenship, there are additional legal hurdles and plenty of forms to fill out. For the average person, it is all manageable, but seek help if you are uncertain at the outset.

Top Places to Live and Work Outside of the US

Have you had fantasies about living abroad and getting away from the same old rat race? You are among friends. Some people imagine living on the 50th floor of a luxury high rise in Dubai or in a Tuscan villa in the countryside of Italy. They long for a thatched-roof hut in Thailand or a pagoda-like retreat in Japan. Maybe this isn’t possible exactly the way you dream, but you can get pretty close.

Jobs are available in urban and rural areas around the world. Either you can ask your company to relocate you where your skills are most needed, or you can be a freelance operator most anywhere. Lifestyle choices take the lead when deciding. You want to have good facilities and local amenities. That said, where to go?

Generally, there is a reason for selecting a country of residence. Primarily it is because you want to see the sights and enjoy the culture. Secondarily there are opportunities that beckon. If it is a matter of supply and demand, you will be directed accordingly. Take Vietnam, for example, it is five years behind in the international business arena and needs your help. Expertise in the Internet is below standards and yet they want to offer their wares for e-commerce. Getting a high-paying job may be easier here as a result. You can enjoy more than a modest lifestyle, and one better perhaps than you could have back home.

Dubai appeals to traveling entrepreneurs due to the high level of luxury available. While many people want to taste the local culture, even accepting reduced accommodations, others like full urban amenities. They can do so and still feel foreign and exposed to something new. A good percentage of workers there are from other countries, and many are permanent residents. Jobs are varied due to the burgeoning, sophisticated economy. Engineers and construction specialists are in high demand along with software developers, systems operation managers, and program analysts.

A good rule of thumb for enterprising entrepreneurs is to go where the revenues are. That could be as far ranging as Bolivia or Nepal. Scenic beauty will help you make a good decision as will overhead costs. Look at the jobs, picture yourself in local attire eating regional cuisine, and see if it is amental good fit. A poll of expatriots puts a few places at the top of the list. London and Paris are expensive but among the most wonderful cities in which to live. Rome is a close second. Prague, however, is an up and comer and known for exquisite architectural beauty. Any urban center such as Buenos Aires or Rio will have opportunities and you can learn to tango or samba while you are there.

The best jobs abroad depend on whether you are experienced in a given field or a recent college grad. The latter might lower your expectations. Most rural areas need teachers and nurses, and you can pretty much take your pick of locales in Africa or Asia. Technical expertise and a business administration background could get you to Shanghai, Hong Kong, or even Germany. It is wide open at present and now is the time to seriously consider relocation to broaden your horizons and get an upgraded resume.

Jobs and Businesses that can be Run from Anywhere


If you work on a computer, you can work anywhere. They are portable after all and are not choosy about their immediate locale. Plus, if you want to work abroad, you don’t have to pack much in the way of business supplies. Young people, in particular, who like to roam and wander, have taken advantage of self-employment to earn income while enjoying an alternate culture. It is a way to be fancy free and employed at the same time. Sometimes a brief visit turns into an expatriot experience.

It is much cheaper to live abroad if you go to central or South America or some Asian countries. Maybe you can’t get deals in Dubai or Bangkok, but you can in Costa Rica and Panama. The point is to get the travel bug out of your system, while you ply your usual trade. You could be a freelance writer or editor, a translator, a software developer, a blogger, a webmaster, a marketing specialist, or an app genius. You can, indeed, take your skills with you.

It is all about independence and self-mastery. What could be better? You can work day or night, and often have to in order to meet client’s demands. You decide when, where, and why. Life seldom offers such freedom. If you enjoy the company of others, many small businesses can be established almost anywhere there is electricity, using local staff. You can open a restaurant, offering something exotic and new, or you can run a retail shop for local goods. You don’t need much infrastructure, only inventory.

Americans find that teaching and tutoring English is highly lucrative and in demand around the world. They can operate from home or go to students’ abodes. Walk, bike, or take the bus—it all works. You may find that local companies are your clients and they will provide the space you need to conduct classes and seminars.

You might be a jewelry designer in Bali and go to learn from local craftspeople. You can teach surfing in Thailand and tennis in Rome. Perhaps you create video games or do profession al animation. You might be a painter or sculptor, an architect or an engineer. You can hire on temporarily to a team of professionals in business or stay as solo as you like. You are not under contract or particular obligation which is the ultimate definition of freelance. Supporting yourself overseas is doable and attractive. You call the shots. The good part is when you move, you can often take your clients with you.

Working anywhere may be easy in principle, but you do have to get a word visa and a place to live. Paperwork varies from country to country. Working in a place that allows automatic work permit renewal is desirable and makes things go smoothly. You want to avoid too much red tape. When all the requirements for residency are behind you, the time is right to establish a presence and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

What Is An Expat?

An expariot has a special status abroad. He or she lives may live there permanently and has more or less resigned from a former life back home. There can be many reasons why someone makes the big move to leave one’s homeland: a broken heart, a sense of adventure, boredom—who knows! The point is that they have elected to embrace another culture in another place.

Gertrude Stein was an expat in Paris, Ernest Hemingway in Cuba, Henry James in England, and Bobby Fischer in Ireland. Some of these famous people died in their borrowed locales. Others returned better and wiser for having had the experience.  How does one decide to adopt another country or even take on a new citizenship? It is like the call of the wild. Something about a foreign realm beacons. It could be the atmosphere of “otherness” that makes life more appealing. It could be the people, the sites, and the sounds. But this all sounds a bit romantic. Sometimes it is to get a better job or live well on a lower income as you can do in Costa Rica or Thailand. It could be for the favorable tax treatment of income. Whatever the cause of the new status, there is some benefit perceived for relocation.

An expatriot loves being in the know in their new home. It feels good to welcome visitors and show them around. It feels special to speak another language and partake of a different cuisine. Even if an American is working in a US-based subsidiaries, life outside its walls is unique and colorful. A tourist is often at sea while traveling and needs guidance and instruction. The culture is alien, but intriguing. He expat, by contrast, fits in and feels comfortable with other mores and other lore.

Traditional expatriation has taken a bit of a different turn of late. It is practical and expedient for companies to send experienced people abroad to manage local labor.  Their job could entail recruitment, operations supervision, and export finance. Americans in such situations may stay only a few years at best, and since they did not relocate by choice (as it was not self-initiated), they may shun local customs and practices, keeping their own by preference.

Millions of people, in effect, live outside their home country as the opportunities are knocking loudly. The decision to be an expat is economic. Dubai boasts of immigrants from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. Data shows foreigners dominate the population. It is similar in Singapore where 40% of the inhabitants of urban centers come from other countries. Thus, an American, for example, could find an enclaves of people from “back home” most anywhere. It helps adjustment and acceptance. Only the bold can step into the shoes of a foreign worker and feel right at home. Learning the correct behavior and attitude toward work of the host culture can be challenging. There may be vast differences in modes of communication. Normally assimilation proceeds at a matter of course, but it is always relative, and some real effort at adaptation is required.